A rallying cry: we live in an age of resurgent self-reliance. So consider this a call to action: Whether it's a lamp or limoncello, we hope a project here will inspire the urgent desire to build something.
The slate-and-striker is the simplest turkey call to create, and very effective. Champion call maker Don Bald, of Lebanon, Illinois, starts by cutting a piece of slate (he uses chalkboard salvaged from a school wrecked by a tornado) with a band saw and smoothing out the edges with fine-grit sandpaper. The piece should be ⅛-inch thick and fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.
The striker consists of a handle and peg. Use oak or another hardwood for the peg. Bald turns his pegs on a lathe, making them just under ½ inch in diameter at the top and gently tapered down to the tip, which he rounds off like the business end of a pool cue. All you need for the handle is a piece of dried corncob. Just drill a hole, place some epoxy and the striker in the hole, and test it out. The shorter the striker, the higher-pitched the sound, so give the slate a few strikes, adjusting the length of the peg below the handle until you get the pitch you want. Then let the epoxy set.
Before you use the call, rub both the slate and the striker with 280-grit sandpaper. It's like chalking the cue, and it'll give you a better sound.
There is no need to say goodbye at a party. Just go. When you're between conversations or your drink is empty, wander over to the door. Pretend to be checking your phone as you approach the exit. The next day send the host a note letting him know what a great time you had. That's it.
By Mark Steuer, head chef of the Carriage House Chicago
Set up an assembly line around your stovetop. On one side, keep your raw chicken and three mi bowls—the bigger, the better—ordered from dry ingredients to buttermilk to dry ingredients.
On the stove, set a cast-iron skillet. On the other side of the stove, set a cooling rack on a tray. Now you're ready to go to work.
• 1 pound all-purpose flour (about 3⅓ cups)
• 1 tsp cayenne
• 1 Tbsp each: chili powder, ground pepper, garlic powder, kosher salt, onion powder, and paprika
• canola oil
• 1 quart buttermilk
• 2 Tbsp hot sauce
• 1 kosher chicken, cut into 8 pieces (2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 breasts), rinsed in cold water and patted dry with paper towels
Add the canola oil to the skillet until it is about halfway up the sides and set over medium-high heat. Using a cooking thermometer, bring the oil to 350 degrees.
Mix the flour and dry spices, and divide it between two bowls.
In the third mi bowl, combine buttermilk and hot sauce, and set it between the two that hold the dry ingredients.
Piece by piece, dredge the chicken in one flour mixture, submerge in the buttermilk, then coat it in the other flour mixture.
Using tongs, place the legs and thighs into the oil. The chicken will cool the oil down to 325 degrees. Watch the temperature and adjust heat as needed to keep it there. Fry on one side for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown, then turn it to cook for another 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set it on the cooling rack, season with a sprinkle of kosher salt. Repeat with another batch, until all your chicken is cooked.
Daniel Caudill Creative director, Shinola
In college I was the guy who was always overdressed for class. I loved the style and sophistication of wearing suits, and I arrived at school in a jacket and tie almost every day. Unfortunately, Bloomingdale's would not accept devotion as a form of payment, so I started making my own suits. One day in 1985 I found a pair of iridescent, greenish-black rayon curtains (circa 1972) tossed in a trash can. I reclaimed them, and sketched out a basic design. They turned out to be perfect for an exquisitely tailored sharkskin suit—Frank Sinatra by way of Saturday Night Fever.
That glossy green suit lasted me more than 15 years.
Like horror-movie sequels or species of beetles, the potential varieties of lamps are nearly infinite. There are chandeliers that look like jellyfish, and sconces that look like bowler hats. If you can imagine something, assume someone has made it light up.
Your actual project is probably simpler—a wood box, a vase, an old kerosene lantern. What it is doesn't matter. What you do to it does. A high-quality lamp relies on its electrical structure.
Whatever you're converting, you'll need something hardy to support the bulb socket and the harp. "Don't just stick a cord in a bottle, wrap it with electrical tape, and try to make that work," says David Huter, custom lamp builder and owner of The Lampmaker in Louisville, Kentucky.
You can get anything you need at a good hardware store. The key is a sturdy piece of electrical tubing informally called the rod (⅛-inch ips lamp pipe). You'll thread this into the base of the lamp socket and then gently pull SPT-2 lamp cord through it.
Wire the lamp socket carefully. Separate the hot and neutral conductors in the cord by gently pulling them apart and tying them into an underwriter's knot. This prevents the conductors from being pulled loose from the socket's terminal screws if, say, your kid yanks on the plug.
The neutral wire has small ridges on the insulation, or a small white stripe. Strip the end of the wire and wrap its conductors clockwise around the socket's silver terminal screw. Tighten. Strip the lamp cord's hot wire, wrap it clockwise under the brass screw, and tighten. Complete the socket by adding its shell and insulating sleeve, and push the assembly into the base.
To finish the lamp, smooth any surface that can chafe the cord, or insert a plastic grommet in the lamp body and run the cord through that. This prevents abrasion and holds the cord firmly in position.
And there you have it. Your college bowling trophy reborn as a lamp. Your wife is still not going to let you keep it in the living room. With thanks to .
• ⅔ cup shea butter
• ⅔ cup coconut oil—also great for cooking popcorn
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 2 Tbsp baking soda
In a double boiler, melt together the shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil. Feel free to add a few drops of an essential oil such as eucalyptus, which helps ease redness if you're prone to razor burn. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it harden in the fridge. Bring the compound back to room temperature, add the baking soda, and, using an electric mixer, whip it until it's the consistency of cake icing. Keep the shaving cream in a jar, and apply with a shaving brush. It won't lather like you're used to, but it's just as smooth. Plus, you made it.
Kevin Ollie, head coach, 2014 NCAA champion University of Connecticut Huskies men's basketball team
I owe Coach Jim Calhoun a lot. We run a practice drill I inherited from his staff in 2012. It's called the Nash Drill, after Steve Nash. When the guys are getting tired, we have them shoot rapid-fire from the free-throw line for 60 seconds. Make fewer than 17 and you run sprints. I believe that's what helped us shoot 87.8 percent during the tournament.
We also try to teach our players to find a routine and fall in love with it. Do the same thing time after time and there are no distractions. When I played for the Huskies in the early '90s, I would find the nail in the floor that lined up with the rim, and put my right foot on it. Then I would focus on the back of the rim, spin the ball once, and take the shot. Muscle memory is key. The great free-throw shooters are the ones who never stop working on it. Their mechanics are always the same.
Also, you've got to breathe right. A lot of guys get to the line and they hold their breath. I would breathe out, relax, and feel the tension leave my shoulders. I would envision the ball on its arc, funneling right over the front rim. Then, hopefully, that's exactly what happens.
Jenny Young, Brooklyn Robot Foundry
What You Need:
• Battery pack (either two AAA or two AA)
• Motor (130 size DC toy motor with wires)
• Electrical tape
• Button with thread holes
• Glue gun
• Makeshift robot body (tissue box, toilet paper roll, etc.)
1. Attach battery pack to motor (red wire to red wire, blue to black) and wrap exposed wires in electrical tape.
2. Slide the needle-like shaft of motor through a hole in the button and secure with a glob of glue.
3. Glue motor and battery pack to body.
4. Turn on.
The Robot Foundry () holds classes to make the Tin Can Robot (above). It's easy to build, like the one Young describes here.
Booze, lemons, sugar, and time. That's all it takes to make limoncello, the bracing liqueur created in Italy and now catching on in other countries, including the U.S. "It's the perfect gateway DIY kitchen project," says chef Nate Anda, who concocts 14 variations of the after-dinner digestivo at his Washington, D.C, restaurant, The Partisan. His recipe for classic limoncello:
What You'll Need:
• 20 lemons
• 1 ¾ liters grain alcohol (or 100-proof vodka)
• 2 cups sugar
What to Do:
1. Peel the lemons, using a sharp paring knife to remove all of the white pith from the inside of the peel. Toss the skins in a glass or plastic container large enough to hold at least 2 ½ liters.
2. Add the alcohol and seal the container. Wrap it in plastic and then aluminum foil (to shield it from light). Let the mixture sit in a cool place for two to four weeks (four is better), and then strain out the peels.
3. Make simple syrup by combining 2 cups water with 2 cups sugar in a saucepan and bringing the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes. Cool the simple syrup completely by placing the pan in an ice bath.
4. Stir 2 ½ cups of the simple syrup into the lemon-infused alcohol.
5. Divide the limoncello into bottles, seal, and let sit for a week to 10 days to let the syrup marry with the alcohol.
6. Serve very cold; limoncello is often stored in a freezer and presented in chilled glasses or small ceramic cups.
Crafting the perfect pair of pants has come a long way since stone-washing was used to soften denim in the '50s. Today's jean makers are applying high-tech methods to make sure you have never looked better.
A great pair of pants should hold up against the elements. Mason Industries, of Vancouver, British Columbia, coats its pants in fluorochemicals, creating water- and abrasion-resistant jeans—in case you want to go snowboarding in them.
Denim brands like Rag & Bone and 7 For All Mankind exclusively are using lasers to bore in patterns that make their jeans look perfectly aged.
After years of using synthetic dye, luxury-denim brand PRPS is incorporating natural indigo dye into its process. "It's less harmful when washed because it's a plant extract," says founder Donwan Harrell. And, like other revivalist brands, PRPS weaves denim on a selvedge shuttle loom—the finicky cast-iron machine widely used before the '60s. Because regular threads are so easily broken during weaving, selvedge denim uses stronger ones, making the fabric much denser.
Pizarro, a Portugal-based denim laundry, is championing a more sustainable version of sandblasting: Its proprietary IceLight machine blasts pellets of dry ice at the denim. After the ice melts off, it leaves all the aging on the pants but none of the dust that's harmful to workers.
Most brands use machines that produce seven to nine stitches per inch. At premium- denim brand 3x1, founder Scott Morrison insists on two individual rows of thread to make 11 to 13 stitches per inch. He also uses different-size pockets for each size pair of pants, so the seat (and you) looks perfectly proportioned.
Linex the Robot
Lonnie Johnson Inventor of the Super Soaker; dabbled in robotics in the early '60s; now creating a next-gen battery
I built Linex in 1962, when I was at Williamson High in Mobile, Alabama. He was solar-powered and remote-controlled; he rolled around on wheels and could move his arms and hands like a person. He won me first place at a regional science fair—a pretty big deal for a high school kid. Robby the Robot, from Forbidden Planet, and the robot on Lost in Space inspired me to make him. Those robots were humanoid, and people inside of them animated their limbs. Linex moved only because of the mechanisms I built. He's not around anymore, though—I took him apart to build Linex 2. But he was ahead of his time. If I had continued to focus on projects like Linex, I guess I'd be the robotics king by now.
Smile. Eye . Say her name back to her when she introduces herself. Don't tell a joke, but laugh at hers. Err on the side of reserved, on the off chance you have a terrible personality.
Start with a main event. A concert is good. Or a group dinner. Parent-teacher conferences, even. Something to make it to and eventually leave. Then build plans around those plans: drinks before (though maybe not before the parent-teacher conference), drinks after, dessert, a second dinner. Keep the peripheral events limited to an easily transportable group of, say, four people, and consider proximity to the main location. Then stay open to subversion of any or all of those plans and rules.
As the science advisor for risk reduction at the U.S. Geological Survey, Lucy Jones is the expert on natural disaster preparation and response. She and Keith Porter, research professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, have laid out a comprehensive government plan for what needs to be done the next time something really bad happens. What we can do to be ready:
Secure Your Space
Live in a hurricane zone? Install storm shutters. Earthquake country? Attach your bookcases and cabinets to walls.
Read Those Emergency Texts on Your Phone
Even a few seconds' warning can be enough time to pull over, seek shelter, or get out of an elevator.
Build Better Structures
The international building code doesn't require buildings to be usable after a disaster, but it'd be an economic boon if they were. Jones and Porter propose that many buildings could be made 50% stronger with only a 3% increase in initial construction cost.
Prep for the Recovery
Reduced economic activity after a disaster can dwarf property losses. (New Orleans' annual gross domestic product is a projected $15 billion less than what it would've been had Katrina not hit.) Communities that promoted local businesses before disasters struck have recovered more quickly. Shop local.
Insurance reimbursements are critical for reviving the regional economy. Jones and Porter suggest a national approach that would discourage development in high-risk regions and provide financial support to affected areas.
Be polite and appreciative but slightly prodding—authoritative without being a jerk. Any good reservationist will introduce herself when she answers the phone. You should do the same. Then tell her that you need a table—not "looking for" or "wondering if we can get." Need. If it can't happen for your desired time or party, fish for options. "I see. So, there's nothing at all we can do at 7:30 for four people?" Counter with your alternative: "7:00 pm would be doable." If they're fully booked, maybe next time don't wait until the day of.
Most people regard the thing that holds their socks and folded clothes as an object of utility. But the classic chest of drawers follows a fairly strict design formula that, when executed well, makes the finished product as handsome as it is useful. We asked Adam Rogers, the director of design and product development for Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers, to explain the basics. Even if you're not making one yourself, at least you'll know how to spot quality.
1. The top is minimally ornamented with a cove or ogee molding. It's attached with a sliding dovetail that is glued at the front of the case sides but not at the back. This allows some movement when changes in temperature and humidity cause the sides to expand and contract, so that the molding won't loosen nor the case crack.
2. The outer dimensions of the case correspond to a rectangle that presents the length and width in a 1:1.618 ratio. This is known as the golden rectangle, and it has guided architects and designers for thousands of years. It should be the starting point for creating a bureau.
3. Drawer depth declines by 1 inch—about the height of the divider separating each drawer—from bottom to top.
4. The case's corners are joined with through dovetails, an essential detail that puts the woodworker's skill on display.
5. As much as possible, drawer fronts are taken from the same piece of l umber to ensure continuity of color and grain. The drawers are joined with half-blind dovetails at the front and full dovetails at the back.
Cadet Kyle Fredrickson, West Point Class of 2015
Start by laying down a flat sheet and tucking 6 inches of it under the head of the mattress. Make hospital corners at the top of the bed, forming a tight fold at a 45-degree angle on each side (see above). Tuck in the sheet along the sides of the mattress. Make it tight—no wrinkles. Leave the end of the sheet at the foot of the bed hanging free. Put on another sheet and a blanket (standard issue for cadets is gray wool), and make hospital corners with the three layers at the foot. Shove the sides of the top sheet and blanket under the mattress, and then fold back a foot-wide strip away from the headboard. When you slide in after lights-out, it's like climbing into an envelope.
Michael Van Valkenburgh Landscape architect and designer of Chicago's new Bloomingdale Trail
I collected and oversaw the growth of a type of catalpa tree not found in the trade, so that I could use them in city-based projects where catalpa is valuable. I made my own material supply, in other words. Why are they valuable? Tough as shit. Pretty flowers.
Find the shape in the plant, don't impose one on it. If it wants to be a porpoise, help it be a porpoise. Cut when the leaves have turned dark and waxy (usually after July), then wait until the first freeze of the year to trim. Repeat for about five years to let the shape develop. And maybe find another hobby in the meantime.
With thanks to Tyler Diehl at Ladew Topiary Gardens in Monkton, Maryland.
A vegetable peeler and a glass tumbler are your tools. Flip the glass upside down and use the bottom as the platform on which you'll build the flower. Set out a stick of cold butter, and let it warm so that it is malleable but still hard. Use your peeler to slice off a thin strip of butter, and roll it into a cylinder. Stand the cylinder up in the center of the glass. Peel off another strip, and wrap it loosely around the cylinder, letting the top edge curl outward, like a real petal. Rotate the glass and keep adding slivers of butter, imperfectly and radiating out from the center. When you're satisfied with the size of the bloom, refrigerate it. Serve with good bread.
Starting with the bread, build the sandwich in your head first, balancing salt, acid, heat, and texture (between crunchy and soft). Take bologna, mayo, and white bread. You have spicy meat, rich sauce, and soft bread. Mi acidic French's yellow mustard with the mayo balances the richness, and potato chips on the sandwich add crunch.
Fold and layer meat evenly across the bread. You don't want a hump of ingredients in the middle.
And use a sharp serrated knife to cut corner to corner on sliced bread for the best display. With a hard roll, cut the sandwich into pie-wedge-shaped thirds.
With thanks to Joshua Smith, owner, Moody's Delicatessen & Provisions, Waltham, Massachusetts.
Haunted Halloween Maze
Derik DeVecchio Telescope designer, Celestron
My brother and I have been building a haunted maze in his yard for the past five years. It's getting pretty big—last year 500 people showed up, and it took them an average of 10 minutes to get through. The zombie eating glowing green slime took some real work, but the maze itself is easy to build: Buy a bunch of commercial rebar and have it cut into 2-foot lengths. Hammer each spike into the ground about halfway, and slip a piece of electrical metallic tubing over it. Those spikes mark the path of your maze. After they're set up, use sheets of industrial-strength plastic fastened with binder clips to form the walls. It needs to be sturdy enough to stand up to a breeze and the occasional panicked trick-or-treater.
Those mass-market charcoal briquettes at your local grocery store provide a cheap, reliable flame, but they're also made from compressed, burned-up wood scraps ("char") and chemicals. That's fine for most people, but barbecue purists prefer the hot, all-natural burn of hardwood lump charcoal. It's made by burning wood in a furnace with very little oxygen—inside a ceramic grill like the Big Green Egg or a cast-iron smoker. The smoldering cooks off all the water and impurities, leaving you with the wood's fuel-rich carbon core. Sure, you can buy it, but you can also go buy your steak at Outback. Here, Adam Perry Lang, a classically trained chef and unparalleled BBQ innovator, shares his method for making lump charcoal at home.
1. Buy Oak, Hickory, Mesquite, Apple, or Peach Hardwood; cut into softball-size chunks. Wood sellers, such as Hawgeyes BBQ (), take orders online and deliver by mail.
2. Set Up Your Furnace on a Heat-Resistant Surface—your driveway, for instance—well away from your home, car, or anything else you don't want to melt or burn down. You'll probably want a fire extinguisher nearby.
3. Load the Furnace Three-Quarters Full with Wood. Intersperse balled-up newspaper and paraffin-wax starters to help get the fire going.
4. Light the Fire.
5. Close Everything Up, leaving a small air vent to allow steam and smoke to escape. The fire should be smoldering, smoky, and very, very hot. It should also be left alone. Don't even crack the lid.
6. Once the Furnace is Cool to the Touch (About 12 Hours Later), Open It. The charcoal pieces should be around the same size as the wood chunks you began with. Just be sure that the fire is completely extinguished and the charcoal is cool before sticking your hand in there to pull anything out.
Two Boy Scout-approved methods.
The Log Cabin
GOOD FOR: Campfire cooking, slow-burning fires.
HOW TO: Lay your wood crisscross in a square, the way you did with Lincoln Logs as a kid, around your tinder and kindling. Use larger pieces of wood as the base, and work up from there, with the smallest pieces at the top.
GOOD FOR: Hot fires, windy conditions.
HOW TO: Stand up three or four big sticks so they form a point over your bundle of kindling. They act as a chimney, drawing air in. Then add your larger logs in the same shape around the existing structure for support.
Dig out a trench from the shore to your building site, providing you with a continuous supply of water and a built-in moat. Tamp down a mound of moist sand in the rough shape of your castle. (A four-corner fort is easy for kids.) In a large bucket mix sand with enough water that a layer of water rests on top. Pull out handfuls of the wet sand and pack them into pancakes. Press the pancakes onto the sides and top of the mound to build up the main castle, pounding the sand with your palm to force water out and solidify the structure. Work around the perimeter, from the bottom up, smoothing out the sides and shaping the castle as you go.
To add towers, put an upside-down beach bucket with the bottom cut off in the place you want the tower. Fill it with the sand–water mixture, let it set, and lift off. Use a straw or fork, whatever you have lying around, to draw details such as bricks onto the smooth surface of the castle.
With thanks to Marianne van den Broek of Sandisle Sand Sculptures, Key West, Florida.
Moray Callum Vice President, Design, Ford Motor Company
I recently made a dolley to load things onto my trailers. I'm always moving band saws and welders, so I welded this dolley from steel tubing and a flat plate, and added wheels and a lever system to lift the wheels from the ground, so it can go from a static dolly to a movable dolly. This is what I spend my weekends doing, and it is a bizarre waste of my time, but I liked the mechanical challenge. I always think it's going to take me half a day and it took me about two weeks to make. But I'm proud of it, it works and it's actually quite clever.
THE EXPERT: Adriaan Gerber, bladesmith
THE EQUIPMENT: Combination waterstone with a grit of 1000/4000, and an 8-inch, single-cut flat metal file in a fine grade.
THE GENERAL RULE: Work standing up so that you can use your body, not your arms, to slide the blade. With elbows pinned at your sides, rock your body back and forth with each stroke to maintain a steady sharpening angle.
CHISELS, PLANES, AND OTHER SINGLE-BEVEL BLADES
If the back of the blade is scratched or pitted, run it in small circles on the coarse stone (1), then rinse and repeat with the fine stone. Otherwise, press the bevel crosswise against the coarse stone with one hand, supporting the rear of the blade with the other. Slide the bevel up the length of the stone and back again (2). When you've reached the desired angle, rinse, then repeat with the fine stone. Flip the blade and stroke the backside once or twice against the fine stone to remove any burrs that may have formed.
KNIVES, CLEAVERS, AND OTHER DOUBLE-BEVEL BLADES
Unless you're forming a brand-new edge on a dull blade, the fine stone will suffice for most sharpening. Beginning at the tip, push the blade up the length of the stone and draw it back. Move the blade over a quarter of an inch and repeat (1). Continue until you reach the heel, then flip the blade (2) and repeat with the other side.
AXES, MAULS, AND EVERYTHING ELSE
For draw filing, put down the stone and grab your file. Clamp the blade horizontally against your workbench, with a block of wood beneath it to elevate the edge above the bench top. Grasp the file at both ends, and place it across the far end of the blade at a 30-degree angle. Press down firmly, and draw the file smoothly toward your belly, following the blade's curve but keeping the angle steady. Without lifting the file, lighten the pressure and push it back to the starting position. Repeat until you have a flat, polished edge along the entire blade. Flip the blade over and repeat.
If you need help, ask if someone could lend a hand or offer you some guidance. Be thankful, but not effusive. When you're done, give your accomplishment an affable shrug.
When Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach writes a song, he's not chasing airplay. "I don't write for the radio. To me it's more important how the song will sound live," he says. Still, he's an ace at making gold records (the Keys' "Tighten Up," "Gold On The Ceiling," "Lonely Boy," and "Fever"), which is why he's in demand as a producer (notably, for Ray LaMontagne and Lana Del Rey). His technical tools are modest: He uses his iPhone to write lyrics and record snippets of vocals and riffs. He usually brings the elements together with a pro-level Radar recording system, but he sometimes uses Pro Tools software, which he recommends for budding songwriters.
On the Keys' new album, Turn Blue, Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney relied on their notoriously spontaneous recording style. "You have to find your own process," Auerbach says. "Just don't plan anything. Stephen Hawking doesn't need to come up with a blueprint for you."
An Electric Go-Kart
Ralph Gilles President and CEO of Motorsports at Chrysler
I used to have a Birel racing go-kart that was too loud for the neighbors. So I came up with the idea to take that chassis and put in an electric motor and batteries and build a dedicated electric go-kart from an old Birel racing kart. I removed all the gasoline parts, took out the two stroke engine, and replaced it with a big DC motor with a chain and then a controller from a golf cart and then 4-12 volt batteries to make a 48 volt circuit. It was very torque-y, the acceleration was actually quicker than the one with the gas motor.
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